The White House approved the construction of miles of border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in a striking reversal of campaign promises and more than two years of public policy. The decision comes amid a significant increase in the number of border crossings since President Joe Biden announced the end of the Title 42 asylum policy initiated under former President Donald Trump.
The administration approved waivers for the construction of border wall construction in high-crossing areas in Starr County, Texas.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that there was “presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas.”
The planned building of about 20 miles of new border barriers follows the Trump administration’s construction of about 450 miles of border wall during the last administration.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement that the funds for the new construction were approved by Congress in 2019 and that the Department of Homeland Security “is required to use those funds for their appropriated purpose.”
The president has not publicly commented on the change of plans, although White House press secretary Karine Jeanne-Pierre was asked about the issue during a press briefing this week.
ABC's @SelinaWangTV: Biden "just told me that a border wall does not work. If that's the case, Why does his…Homeland Security secretary say….'there is presently an acute & immediate need to construct physical barriers?'"
KJP says Biden was "clear" & "this is not new" pic.twitter.com/phb3mark9K
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) October 5, 2023
The move follows public resistance by the Biden White House against a border wall. Earlier this year the federal government sold a wide lot of construction materials intended to build a southern border wall. The auctions sold lots of barrier components at low prices starting in April.
Republicans accused the White House of allowing about $300 million in construction materials to go to waste.
“This sale is a wasteful and ludicrous decision by the Biden administration that only serves as further proof they have no shame,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) at the time.
The administration also protested efforts by individual states, such as Arizona under former Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and Texas under Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to restrict border crossings.